When I was a girl, I would walk in the woods or the field nearby and spend time thinking. I would sit and think on my “Thinking Rock.” I felt great peace being in nature and in sorting out my feelings and thoughts. Not only did I like sitting on the Thinking Rock, I was consciously aware of my sensory experiences while being in nature. I can remember the way the sun felt on my skin, the way the wind blew on my face, the sound of birds, and the smell of freshly cut grass. I even found myself closing my eyes to really focus on my sensory experience. I think I intuitively knew something back then.
These days, most people have little to no time to take a walk in the woods, let alone to sit and experience it with all their senses. We live such busy lifestyles with little room to take pause and reflect. It turns out that spending time in nature has huge benefits for stress reduction. Studies have shown that nature is psychologically restorative, which means that when in nature one can feel happier, anger is minimized, and stress is reduced. The studies on the effects of nature on psychological well being have shown that your body responds to nature by a reduction in heart rate, less muscle tension, and a decline in blood pressure, all physiological signs that a person is relaxed. In addition, nature proved to increase attention span and improve self-discipline. The benefits of nature are available to all and can be experienced across the age spectrum.
I guess as a child I inherently knew that nature relaxed me. When life becomes too overwhelming, it can be really important, especially in an urban environment, to visit a park, go out to the country, or take a trip to the beach. Having time to oneself in nature without crowds and distraction has numerous mental health benefits. So when you’re stressed, find your own “Thinking Rock,” reflect, and notice your experience in nature and you may feel your stress fade away.